“Gatari” : Story from My Dockyard Days
STORY FROM MY DOCKYARD DAYS
You must have heard of the movie “Hatari”.
But — have you heard of the term “Gatari”…?
This story happened many years ago during my Naval Dockyard Mumbai days.
Story from My Dockyard Days By VIKRAM KARVE
During my Navy Days — whenever I applied for leave — especially casual leave — sometimes — my boss would ask me the reason why I wanted leave — but — I did not have to mention the reason for which I wanted leave on the leave application form.
The leave application form asked for various details like number of days of leave required, type of leave, address and phone number during leave period etc — but there was no requirement to mention the reason for leave.
In contrast — civilian employees had to mention the reason for leave on their leave application form — at least in the Naval Dockyard — where this story happened many years ago.
There was one more difference between uniformed navy personnel and civilian employees as far as leave was concerned.
In the Navy (and maybe in Army and Air Force too) — remaining absent without leave was an offence — you were treated as AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) or “marked run” in Navy parlance — and if you didn’t report for duty after a telegram was sent to your home address — you could be arrested and punished severely.
In the case of civilian employees — things were quite lenient — and such absences from duty without sanctioned leave were generally regularised by “ex-post-facto” approvals — sometimes — “benevolent” seniors even regularised long absences by granting “leave without pay” in case all the accumulated leave was exhausted.
For Civilian Employees — Leave was a Right (an Entitlement)
For Military Personnel — Leave is a Privilege (a Favour)
Even in the Private Sector — if employees remain AWOL (absent without leave) — at the most — they may be fired — but they will not be arrested and punished — even imprisoned — as in the case of AWOL Military Personnel.
I have digressed.
Let me come back to the story I was telling you.
THE LEAVE APPLICATION
The moment I saw the reason for leave on the leave application form — I burst out into laughter.
In fact — three of my key supervisors had mentioned the same reason.
My deputy had forwarded the leave applications with the remark “Not Recommended”.
“What’s the problem…?” I asked him.
“Sir — there is an important meeting on that day — for which all supervisors are required — especially these three…” my deputy said.
“Ask these three guys to see me at 12:30 — when they come for lunch break — before I go for lunch…” I said to my deputy — and — I kept the three leave applications in my drawer.
“Sir — are you going to give them leave…? I didn’t understand the reason they have mentioned…” my deputy asked me.
“Didn’t you ask them…?” I said to my deputy.
“I did, Sir — I asked them what was so important on that day — I told them to postpone their leave in view of the important meeting — but they said that I wouldn’t understand but you would — Sir — I don’t think you should give them leave on that day…” my deputy said.
“Let’s see — I’ll talk to them — and the reason they have mentioned — I will explain it to your later — in fact — you also be present at 12:30 when they come — so — you can hear it from them…” I said to my deputy.
“Aye Aye, Sir…” my deputy said to me — he saluted — and he left my office.
Dear Reader — in order to give you a bit of background — let me tell you about an incident that happened in the very first week of my taking up my appointment as the manager of a premier department in the Dockyard.
I noticed that a civilian officer was missing from the morning meeting.
When I enquired about his absence — my deputy said that he was on “sick leave”.
“What…? Sick Leave…? He seemed to be quite okay yesterday. What’s wrong with him…?” I asked my deputy.
“Sir — he called up a few minutes ago saying that he has high fever and is unable to even get out of his bed — must be a serious case of flu or viral infection…” my deputy said.
“Let’s hope he gets well soon…” I said to everyone.
For uniformed military/navy personnel — you had to report sick to the sickbay or clinic or hospital — and you had to be declared SIQ (Sick in Quarters) — or you had to get admitted to hospital — if you were absent from duty due to sickness.
In the case of civilian employees — a telephonic intimation was enough. On reporting for duty — they had to submit a doctor’s certificate with brief details of their sickness and certifying that they were sick were not fit to perform their duty on those days. The “sick leave” was approved “ex-post-facto”.
I looked at the wall clock in my office — it was 9:30 AM
“I have to visit the Store Depot at Ghatkopar…” I said — then — I looked at the Stores Officer and asked him, “have you tied up everything…? Are we getting transport…?”
“Sir — they will be waiting for us at 11:30 AM — Sir — there is no transport available — they have given an NA (Non-Availability) Certificate — so — we will have to go by local…”
“Okay — I’ll quickly change into civvies — and we will walk down to VT and catch a local…” I said to the Stores Officer.
THE “SICK” OFFICER
Around 10 AM — at VT (CSMT) — we got into the First-Class Coach of a Thane Local.
The coach was almost empty — since we were travelling in the opposite direction — since the rush to go to work was from the suburbs towards the city (VT)
At Dadar — I was shocked to see the “sick” civilian officer enter the coach — he was dressed in classy clothes — wearing a silk kurta — and — he didn’t look “sick” at all.
With him was a lady dressed in an expensive saree wearing jewellery.
From her demeanour — it was quite obvious that she was his wife.
They were all “decked up” — as if going to attend a wedding.
The “sick” officer seemed to be searching for good seats — looking around the coach — when he looked in my direction — but — the moment our eyes met — he averted his eyes — and started walking towards the opposite end of the coach — the lady following him.
The stores officer sitting opposite me — so — he had probably not seen the “sick” officer.
I did not want to embarrass the “sick” officer — especially in the presence of his wife — so — I did not mention anything to the stores officer.
In a few minutes — we reached our destination Ghatkopar — and — we got off the local.
I decided to publicly shame the mendacious “sick” officer who had told blatant lies about his health to avail “sick leave” — that he had high fever — when — in actual fact — he was absolutely healthy and fit.
He reported next morning with a doctor’s certificate which was obviously fake.
I decided to address all officers, supervisors and office staff during the lunch break.
When everyone had assembled — I told them that what I had seen — that the civilian officer who had taken “sick leave” was actually travelling in a local with his wife probably to attend a wedding.
Then — I delivered a “sermon” — a “moral lecture” — on the importance of speaking the truth and being transparent.
I wondered if my “lecture” had the desired effect.
A few days later — when I saw the leave application forms of three of my key supervisors — I knew that my “sermon” did make an impression — at least on these three supervisors.
The reason mentioned on their leave applications was:
“To Celebrate Gatari Amavasya”
I had a hearty laugh — and — I summoned the three supervisors.
“Gatari Amavasya” or “Gatari is a celebration of “Eat, Drink and be Merry” on the last day of Ashaadh month — a day prior to the start of the Shravan month — when most people abstain from eating non-vegetarian food, drinking alcohol etc.
On “Gatari” — some people enjoy drinking and eating non-vegetarian food to their heart’s content — before a month of “detoxification” (eating healthy vegetarian food and abstaining from alcohol) during Shravan.
In Marathi — the word “Gatar” (गटार) means “gutter”.
The celebration “Gatari” gets its name from the fact that some people drink so much booze — that they get totally drunk — and — fully inebriated and in a heavy state of intoxication — they fall down and pass out unconscious in a gutter “Gatar” (गटार)
Maybe — when they wake up next morning — the month of Shravan has already begun.
So — “Gatari” — the last day before the holy month of Shravan begins — is a day of indulgence.
Since people stop eating non-vegetarian food and abstain from drinking alcohol and all other vices during the month of Shravan — “Gatari” is the last opportunity to drink alcohol and eat non-veg food to your heart’s content before Shravan begins the next day.
In a nutshell:
On “Gatari” — eat meat and drink booze until you pass out in the gutter.
By the way — Dear Reader — this year — “Gatari” is being celebrated today — on the 28th of July 2022
So — as you are reading this — some merry persons may already be in high spirits celebrating “Gatari” with full gusto.
The three supervisors stood in front of me — and — my deputy was seated on a chair — towards the side — and — he was looking at the supervisors.
“Sir — we want to take back our leave applications…” one of the supervisors said to me.
“Why…? Don’t you have plans to celebrate “Gatari”…?” I asked him
“The deputy manager told us that there is an important meeting on that date — so — we will cancel our plans…” he said.
“The meeting can be postponed — but — “Gatari” cannot be postponed…” I said.
The supervisors looked at me with an expression of amazement on the faces.
I smiled at them and spoke.
“Tell me — what are your plans for “Gatari”…?” I asked them.
“Sir — we are planning to go a secluded beach — take a few bottles of booze and plenty of non-veg food with us — and — eat and drink all day by the sea side…” they said.
“Wonderful…” I said, “you must enjoy yourself thoroughly on “Gatari” — eat drink and be merry…”
“Thank you, Sir…” they said.
“I am extremely happy at your truthfulness — you could have taken “sick leave” — like that bugger — but you have been honest with me — so — I am going to give you 3 days leave to celebrate “Gatari” — so that you can enjoy fully…” I said, with a smile.
“Three days, Sir…? We want only one day leave…” they said, surprised.
“I want you to enjoy to the fullest — and — in the true spirit of “Gatari” — you must drink to your heart’s content — but — instead of passing out in the “gutter” — you can collapse on the beach in a state of “ecstasy” — if you really enjoy “Gatari” fully — you will take 2 days to recover — so — I am going to give you guys 3 days leave…” I said, smiling.
“Sir — one day leave is enough…” they said, with a slightly pleading look.
“One day leave is not enough for you fully recover from your hangover if you really celebrate “Gatari” in the true spirit — I know you guys won’t report for duty on time but will ask for “sick leave” like that bugger…” I said, firmly.
“Sir — we promise to report the next day — on time…” they said.
“Okay — here is the deal — I will keep your leave applications in my drawer — if you report on time — I will tear up your leave applications — and give you one day “compensatory off” for “Gatari” — if you don’t report on the next day after “Gatari” — I will grant you 3 days leave and forward your leave applications to HR…” I said to them.
“Thank you, Sir…” they said, promising once more to report on time.
“You must “de-brief” me on your “Gatari” celebrations…” I said to them.
“Of course, Sir…” they said, with a happy smile on their faces — and they left my office.
After the three supervisors had left my office — my deputy looked at me.
“Sir — the meeting — should we postpone it…?” my deputy asked me.
“We will have the meeting as scheduled — on “Gatari” — remember — no one is indispensable — and — no one must feel that he is indispensable. If you want — take a briefing from them — and be ready for the meeting…” I said to my deputy.
The three supervisors were standing outside my office before opening hours on the next morning after “Gatari”.
From the strong “aroma” emanating from their bodies — it seemed as if they were sweating alcohol out of their pores — and — it was evident that they had celebrated “Gatari” with full gusto.
Copyright © Vikram Karve
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1. This story is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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Source Blog Posts from My Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve: http://karvediat.blogspot.com/2022/07/unfinished-story.html and http://karvediat.blogspot.com/2022/07/gatari-story-from-my-naval-dockyard-days.html etc
Part of this story posted earlier in this blog at url: https://karve.wordpress.com/2022/07/27/unfinished-story-memoirs/ and https://karve.wordpress.com/2022/07/28/gatari/ etc
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.